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Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Zoological Museum, Fine Arts Museum, Galerie Heitz
23 SEPTEMBER 2017 / 25 FEBRUARY 2018


The Museums of the City of Strasbourg and the University of Strasbourg are jointly organizing a major multidisciplinary event based on an original idea by the distinguished French academician and native of Strasbourg, Roland Recht. The exhibition Laboratory for Europe, Strasbourg, 1880-1930 will address the theme of cultural life in Strasbourg between the years 1880 and 1930. It aims to show the city's role at this time as that of a veritable intercultural testing ground. French, German and also European cultural encounters and cross-fertilisation were to lead to groundbreaking discoveries and unprecedented art forms.
As the turn of the century approached, Strasbourg had come to occupy a special place among European cities. By 1880, it was already ten years since the city had been annexed by a German Empire intent on making it a cultural showcase as the capital of the new Imperial Territory of Elsass-Lothringen. And while Strasbourg was to become French once more at the close of the 1914-18 War, the preceding German period continued to have a lasting impact on its urban planning and institutions.
A Laboratory for Europe, Strasbourg 1880-1930 is a wide-ranging multi-disciplinary experience offering a series of exhibitions and cultural events taking place throughout the city. The choice of period corresponds here to a desire to turn from purely 'event-based' history towards a more 'process-based' approach, through cultural productions and exchanges still underlying Strasbourg's singular identity today.
The exhibition presented at the MAMCS illustrates a remarkable flowering of the decorative arts at a time of burgeoning urban development, and the emergence after 1884 of a top-ranking European university with major encyclopædic collections. It emphasizes the remarkable wealth of acquisitions being made as museums were created or recreated in a new European context. During the 1920s, the modernist design of the Aubette, the avant-gardism of collectors and the innovative research of the Annales historical review proclaim the city's modernist leanings.
Other exhibitions set out to explore this thriving cultural life. The Heitz Gallery exhibition in the Rohan Palace conjures up the musical venues of the time, while the exhibitions being held at the Zoological and Fine Arts Museums bring to life their beginnings and their remarkable creators.
Related aspects have been highlighted in the collections at the Archaeological, Oeuvre Notre-Dame and Alsatian Museums and the permanent displays in the Historical Museum offer an opportunity to enrich our knowledge of this period.
Arts, sciences and ideas combine in these exhibitions to give a vivid and richly complex picture of Strasbourg's ambitions for a European humanist culture.

• An exhibition-event at the MAMCS covering over 3 000 m2
• Over a thousand exhibits, objects and documents
• Several satellite exhibitions in the Strasbourg Museums Network
• A major turning point in the story of European construction
• A new reading of Strasbourg’s history in the light of contemporary issues
• Attractive presentation and vivid staging
• inventive and play-based cultural mediation of exhibits for all audiences
• A powerful dynamic of cooperation between Strasbourg's institutions and cultural partners
• Numerous cultural and extra-mural events

Exhibition Sites:
- Strasbourg Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMCS)
- Zoological Museum
- Galerie Heitz (Palais Rohan)
- Fine Arts Museum (Palais Rohan)


A Laboratory for Europe, Strasbourg 1880-1930
Exhibition held at the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
An art of living: the decorative arts, illustration

In the same way as the largest European capitals of the period, Strasbourg was now experiencing an unprecedented development in the field of the decorative arts, parallel to the emergence of a new urbanisation. Several interior reconstructions (period rooms) show all the techniques of the virtuoso craftsman: marquetry, stained glass, ceramics and sculpture. Here, the three period rooms reconstruct interiors designed by Charles Spindler for the universal exhibitions of Paris in 1900, Turin In 1902 and Saint-Louis in 1904. This section focuses on the most important artists of the period, with widespread international reputations: Charles Spindler, Désiré Ringel d'Illzach or Josef Kaspar Sattler.
The section also deals with the activities of the School of Decorative Arts, its directors, Anton Seder and François Rupert Carabin, as well as the intense activity of its illustration workshop.

The University collections: at the cutting edge of research
An important section presents selections from the extensive collections gathered by the various University departments at this period.
The points of convergence between the collections gathered in Strasbourg at this time are numerous and exemplary in their approach, indissolubly linking universalism, pedagogy and research.
The visitor circuit takes in the remarkable collection of gypsum cast antique sculptures lent by the University, as well as some of the finest specimens in Egyptology, botany, zoology, mineralogy, palaeontology, seismology or medicine.

Art in the museums: a European perspective
The next section is devoted to the enrichment of the museum collections at this time, an enrichment subject to various European influences,.
Here, the exhibition honours the figure of Wilhelm Bode, a collector and "founder" of the Strasbourg Museum of Fine Arts: his taste for ancient art - Italian and Nordic in particular - created for this museum a collection all the more remarkable for being gathered in an exceptionally short time.
In the space of only a few decades, the collections also opened up to modern German art, from Max Klinger, Käthe Kollwitz and Max Liebermann to Emil Nolde, Erich Heckel and Max Beckmann.
The visitor is finally invited to take stock of the artistic vitality of the time through exhibits conjuring up a milestone event: the Exhibition of Contemporary French Art presided by Auguste Rodin in 1907. Here, for the first time, the Strasbourg public was to discover Impressionist and Postimpressionist works, including those of Monet and Cézanne.

Multiple modernity
This section, which concludes the circuit, is devoted to modernist attainments in Strasbourg.
Here, the opening up of the Strasbourg museums to modern French art is explored through the personality of Hans Haug, who was the museum curator in Strasbourg from 1919.
Highlighted here are the Horn brothers, important collectors of modern work and sponsors of the Aubette, and the Lickteig brothers, also favourable to the avant-gardes.
The creation of the decors of the Aubette leisure complex, the modernist flagship designed by Hans Jean Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Theo Van Doesburg, is documented and replaced in the European context as one of its most accomplished masterpieces. Also present are other projects realized in Strasbourg by Theo Van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber-Arp.
Further attainments include the literary avant-garde in Strasbourg gravitating around the personality of René Schickele, as well as the founding of 20th century historical science by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre with the Revue and the École des Annales. The circuit ends with an evocation of the cinema.

The local artistic scene (MAMCS ground floor)
In the midst of the MAMCS' modern collections (ground floor) are five rooms devoted to the development of painting and the graphic arts in Strasbourg's artistic centres. With the deep-rooted search for a distinct cultural identity and the appearance of the Kunstgewerbeschule, to some extent perceived as the product of Imperial academic teaching, Strasbourg was the site of a certain amount of artistic emulation. Artists such as Georg Daubner, Lothar von Seebach, Gustave Stoskopf, Henri Beecke and the artists of the May Group are presented here.

A observatory of the world
Exhibition held at Strasbourg Zoological Museum

The exhibition at the Zoological Museum offers an immersion both in the construction of a museum and its development and in the way in which the knowledge of zoology (and more generally naturalist knowledge) was constructed and presented to the public between 1880 and 1930. It is divided into four parts, including the history of the museum, its directors, the collections and the University of Strasbourg, zoological knowledge and the economic and political environment in which it developed. The most varied specimens, educational material (charts, models in glass, wax, etc.), herbarium charts, minerals, fossils, scientific instruments, portraits, photographs, newspaper articles, posters and correspondence illustrate the circuit.

Wilhelm Bode, ideas in action
Exhibition held at Strasbourg Fine Arts Museum

The exhibition held at the Fine Arts Museum deals with the personality of Wilhelm Bode, director of the Berlin museums and also of those in Strasbourg during the German period. Following the destruction of more than ninety per cent of the museum's collection in the Franco-Prussian bombings of 1870, Bode was sent to Strasbourg to set up a new collection. This eminent conservative played a central role in creating the Strasbourg museum collections as we know them today. We are indebted to him for a universalist approach that, while assertive, is not devoid of a certain bias. Taking some notable works as its starting point, this section of the exhibition shows the extent of his vision. It occupies four rooms In the museum, one of which is devoted to mediation facilities.

Locations of music-making in the city
Exhibition held at Galerie Heitz-Palais Rohan

This satellite exhibition devoted to music immerses the visitor in the musical city of the time through the history of the places where music was made in Strasbourg (the present-day Palais des Fêtes, the Aubette, the Orangerie ...) as well as the leading figures of this musical life (Pfitzner, the Munchs, Stockhausen, Bastide, Ropartz ...). This approach through musical places and genres profitably replaces a chronological approach.
Institutional venues are represented (the Theatre, the Aubette, the 'Palais des Fêtes') as well as churches, the University, the locations of amateur music-making, events, outdoor venues, the birth of the Strasbourg Festival, the creation of the Radio Orchestra and the appearance of new media modifying our listening behaviour and the places devoted to it ... Through these locations, institutions such as orchestras and the conservatory are brought to life, as well as the great musical figures that marked the period, Franz Stockhausen, Hans Pfitzner, Otto Klemperer and the Munch brothers, as well as famous musicians who passed through Strasbourg, Wagner, Mahler, Honegger ... The story is materialized through a hundred or so objects of various kinds: photographs, partitions and graphic works and documents, as well as paintings, three-dimensional objects (sculptures, a small group of instruments), banners, etc.

Counterpoints and specific highlights of the collections are also being presented at the Archaeological, Œuvre Notre-Dame and Alsatian Museums.


Innovative Aids for Visits

Due to the richness of the subjects and contents dealt with, and also to a desire to place the visitor at the centre of the exhibition, particular attention has been paid to programming and cultural mediation as well as to visitor support devices.

Activities and audio-visual aids help to arouse the visitor's interest and curiosity both in advance and upon his arrival at the museum. They also allow him to explore the exhibition at his own pace and enliven his visit with varied and arresting cultural proposals. Strasbourg's multicultural history and geographical situation are reflected by media, cultural and educational activities in French, German, English and Alsatian dialect.

To help visitors find their bearings in the various exhibition sites (MAMCS, Palais Rohan, Zoological Museum), itineraries are marked out by original, user-friendly and clearly identified interpretation tables. With explanatory coloured sheets to be collected, films including portraits of illustrious figures to be watched and information points and touch-screen games or little activities to be tried out, they offer visitors of all categories – families, handicapped people, etc. – a chance to go deeper into exhibition content or simply be entertained.

Photo Booth, Guest Book, Interactive Maps
These will allow visitors to travel back in time by taking a self-portrait in period costume in front of an old view of Strasbourg. The interactive map will help them to locate and find out about the exhibition partners (BNU, HEAR, Archives, Inventory, University, Shadok, etc.) In the Guest Book, they can not only write their own comments but also read those of figures of the period. Two other interactive maps will present the musical scene at the turn of the century in Strasbourg and a marine expedition collecting specimens for the Zoological Museum.

A free downloadable application offers an animated audio-guided tour of the entire exhibition in three languages, with a choice of thematic itineraries ('Unabridged', 'Not to be Missed' or 'Basic'), as well as a selection of 'favourite' exhibits and helpful links to city sites. In addition to this app, the "Laboratoire d'Europe" itinerary can be found on Strasmap.


General Curators

Roland Recht, Honorary Professor, Collège de France. Professor, Institut d’Études Avancées, Université de Strasbourg
Joëlle Pijaudier-Cabot, Chief Heritage Curator. Directress, Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg

Research Committee

David Cascaro, Director, Haute École des Arts du Rhin (HEAR)
Christophe Didier, Associate Administrator, Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg
Camille Giertler, Conservation Assistant, in charge of Aubette 1928
Pascal Griener, Professor, Neuchâtel University
Georges Heck, President, 'Vidéo Les Beaux Jours' Association
Dominique Jacquot, Chief Curator, Musée des Beaux Arts de Strasbourg
Alexandre Kostka, German Scholar, Historian of European Culture. Professor, Université de Strasbourg
Joëlle Pijaudier-Cabot, Chief Heritage Curator. Directress, Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg
Roland Recht, Honorary Professor, Collège de France. Professor, Institut d’Études Avancées, Université de Strasbourg
Jean-Claude Richez, Historian, formerly in charge of Injep Research Group, Paris
Mathieu Schneider, Senior Lecturer, Research Director in Musicology. Vice-President, 'Sciences en Société', Université de Strasbourg
Sébastien Soubiran, Doctor in History of Science. Responsible for Museum Policy, Jardin des Sciences, Université de Strasbourg

Exhibition Curators

Cécile Dupeux, Chief Curator, Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame/Arts du Moyen-Âge
Barbara Forest, Curator, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg
Hélène Fourneaux, in charge of Service Éducatif des Musées (interim). Exhibition coordinator for cultural and educational action
Monique Fuchs, Chief Curator, Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg
Camille Giertler, Conservation Assistant in charge of Aubette 1928
Geneviève Honegger, Historian, Music in Alsace
Delphine Issenmann, ‎responsible for Collections Inventory Service, Université de Strasbourg
Dominique Jacquot, Chief Curator, Musée des Beaux Arts de Strasbourg
Franck Knoery, Conservation Assistant, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg
Etienne Martin, Chief Curator, Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg
Estelle Pietrzyk, Chief Heritage Curator, Directess, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg
Mathieu Schneider, Senior Lecturer, Research Director in Musicology. Vice-President, 'Sciences en Société', Université de Strasbourg
Bernadette Schnitzler, Chief Curator, Musée Archéologique de Strasbourg
Florian Siffer, Conservation Assistant in charge of Cabinet des Estampes et des Dessins
Sébastien Soubiran, Doctor in History of Science. Responsible for museum policy, Jardin des Sciences, Université de Strasbourg
Marie-Dominique Wandhammer, Chief Curator, Musée Zoologique de Strasbourg
Exhibition Design and Layout: Studio Adeline Rispal, Paris
This exhibition benefits from the exceptional support of Strasbourg Eurometropolis and the French Région Grand Est.
This exhibition has received the national seal of approval of the French Ministry of Culture/General Heritage Office/Museums Department. As such, it benefits from exceptional government aid.
With financial assistance from Valoris Avocats, Schroll, Cabinet Lévy-Geissmann & Associés, Würth France S. A.
With the generous support of the Society of Friends of the Arts and the Strasbourg Museums and the Society of Friends of the Strasbourg Modern and Contemporary Art Museum.

Media Partnerships: Le Monde, Historia, Exponaute.